Stage News

 2015

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  Blocked Entry...

Polish police arrest religious extremists trying to picket play


Link Here 22nd November 2015
death  and  the  maidenPolish police have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance they claimed to be pornographic.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing Death and the Maiden , based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Elfriede Jelinek.

The protesters objected to the presence on the stage of porn stars.

The government's new culture minister, Piotr Glinski, had previously called for the show to be canceled, noting the theater is sponsored by the state budget.

 

  Censorship by funding and fear of provocation...

Theatre director who fled Belarus notes that there is also theatre censorship in the UK


Link Here 2nd October 2015

no boundaries logoNatalia Kaliada, director of the Belarus Free Theatre, moved to the UK in 2011 after fleeing a state where freedom of expression is severely restricted, activists can be arbitrarily detained and opposition journalists are routinely harassed.

But now she notes that Britain is not entirely free of state censorship either. Speaking at an arts symposium called No Boundaries she said her company was:

Highly sensitive to any form of control because of its experience in Belarus. I paid the price, and my family paid the price, for speaking our minds freely while living under a dictatorship.

Now, living in a democracy, I start to develop a fear of speaking freely in our shows in case we will lose our funding. Creative conformism is blooming in democratic countries, and so you have to ask whether the only way to secure funding today is to create safe art.

She questioned why there was so much fear in the UK about standing up for provocative artistic work :

We understand that censorship under a dictatorship is imposed by the external ruling regime. Censorship from within a democracy is often self-imposed by the individual.

Nadia Latif, director of the play, called Homegrown , told the Symposium:

We jump to support artists struggling to make work in the regimes of the East, but here in our haven of Western liberal democracy we hesitate to stand behind those pushing against a more insidious authoritarianism.

 

 Offsite Article: Ghosts of Censorship...


Link Here 17th September 2015
ghosts Article about a gay stage performance touches on the subject of censorship in Ireland

See article from irishtimes.com

 

 Offsite Article: Sensitive emails revealed...


Link Here 4th September 2015
nyt-homegrown logo Radicalisation play cancelled by theatre after concerns about 'extremist agenda'

See article from theguardian.com

 

  The Book of Mormon...

So fucking good that even the advert censor appreciates the humour


Link Here 30th August 2015

so fucking goodAn ad, in the Evening Standard, for the musical The Book of Mormon featured the quote SO F**KING GOOD IT MAKES ME ANGRY , which was attributed to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Issue

  1. Two complainants challenged that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for publication in a widely available newspaper.

  2. One complainant challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for children to see.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that F**KING was partly obscured by asterisks, but acknowledged that the intended meaning of the word was still clear. However, we considered, in the context of the ad, the word did not have a sexual meaning, but emphasised the extent to which Jon Stewart enjoyed the musical, while reflecting the adult content of the Book of Mormon and the language Jon Stewart used in his comedy. Therefore, we considered the word would be interpreted in a light-hearted context. We understood that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership, and that the editorial sections reported on serious news events, while also regularly using explicit language. Therefore, we did not consider the ad would be offensive to those who were likely to see the ad. For those reasons, we concluded the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Not upheld

We noted that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership and referred to explicit language in its editorial section. We considered its content included news events about serious topics that would not be of particular interest to children. Therefore, we considered that the newspaper in which the ad was published was unlikely to appeal to children and concluded that its placement was not irresponsible.

 

  Recommending Tagore's Dance Drama: Valmiki Pratibha...

Followers of Indian religion to protest against dance drama at Birmingham arts centre


Link Here 26th August 2015
tagores dance drama valmiki pratibha Followers of an ancient Indian religion are to gather outside a Birmingham theatre to protest over a play that depicts their guru as a villain.

Members of the Central Valmiki Sabha International organisation are 'outraged' that the production - Tagore's Dance Drama: Valmiki Pratibha - shows the group's guru, Bhagwan Valmiki GI, as a robber, looter and killer.

Worshippers from across the UK will demonstrate outside the Mac arts centre in Edgbaston on Sunday, the day the play is due to be performed. Representatives of other faiths, including Sikhs and Christians, are also expected to join the protest.

Jagdish Rai, general secretary of Central Valmiki Sabha UK, said:

There is a great deal of upset within our community. There has never been any evidence to suggest that our guru was a thief, he came from royalty. We will not have this and this is why we are planning this protest.

There are people from all faiths attending because they want to support our cause. If someone was saying something against their faith, they would feel the same.

This will be a peaceful protest. We are not interested in violence, we just want to get our message across. There will be a lot of people there because there is a great strength of feeling about this.

We are fine for the play to go ahead, but we want them to eliminate the part where they depict the person we worship as a thief and a thug because we do not believe this to be the case.

The play is being performed by Nrityakunj, a South Asian dance, drama and arts company based in Manchester, and choreographed by artistic director Mitali Dev. It has already been staged in London, Manchester and Liverpool.

 

 Offsite Article: That's Not Funny!...


Link Here 19th August 2015
naca logo Today's college students in America can't seem to take a joke. By Caitlin Flanagan

See article from theatlantic.com

 

  Homegrown censorship...

A National Youth Theatre production about jihadi brides has been abruptly cancelled


Link Here 5th August 2015
nyt-homegrown logoA play exploring the motives behind radicalised young people joining Islamic State has been cancelled less than a fortnight before its opening night, with the creators claiming the voices of the young cast have been silenced .

Homegrown , a National Youth Theatre (NYT) production, was closed down with the creators saying they were given no prior warning. Director Nadia Latif and playwright Omar El-Khairy believe the production was cancelled due to external pressures, claiming both local authorities and police got involved during the development of the play. Latif said:

There was no warning. We got an email on Thursday night saying the show was cancelled, rehearsals are done, and the cast were told on Friday morning. And that was really a sucker punch, not least because we didn't see it coming at all. There must have been some extraordinary external pressure to cancel the production to justify that emotional trauma on a cast of 112 young people.

The play had a cast of 112 people aged between 15 and 25 who were mostly from ethnic minorities. It was originally due to take place in a school in Bethnal Green linked to the case of schoolgirls Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase who travelled to Syria to become jihadi brides. The play looked at this emotive issues of jihadi brides and attitudes towards Islam in the UK.

 

  Heads roll after William Tell misses its target...

Royal Opera House goers boo a naked rape scene in a 15 rated production of Rossini's William Tell


Link Here 1st July 2015
william tellThe opening night of William Tell at the Royal Opera House has been marked by boos over a rape scene with nudity. Some opera goers also booed at the end of the performance when the production team came on stage for the curtain call.

The BBC news report suggests that the booing may not have been totally aimed at the depiction of the rape, but may be connected with fundamentalist opera goers who feel that directors should stick more closely with operas as written. And in this age of the PC bully, they feel that their views should be heard above those of the director and other opera goers.

The Opera House issued a statement after the performance of Guillaume Tell apologising for any distress caused. Director of opera Kasper Holten said:

The production intends to make it an uncomfortable scene, just as there are several upsetting and violent scenes in Rossini's score. We are sorry if some people have found this distressing. 'Brutality and suffering'.

The scene puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during war time, and sexual violence being a tragic fact of war.

Rossini's opera of the Swiss patriot, William Tell, who shoots an arrow that splits an apple atop his son's head, was directed by Damiano Michieletto.

The Stage gave the production one star. George Hall called it:

A dire evening in which the gratuitous gang-rape scene provoked the noisiest and most sustained booing I can ever recall during any performance at this address.

Michael Arditti, the Sunday Express theatre critic said the production represented a new nadir for the opera house and heads should roll .

But some were upset at the booing in the audience. Janice Evans wrote she was:

In shock at this level of intolerance exhibited in the ROH. I felt abused by their aggression and ashamed of their disrespect for the performers.

The Royal Opera's production of William Tell will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 14th July at 5.50pm. The production is also being shown as live at cinemas and caries a BBFC 15 rating.

 

  Culture Minister Vs Culture Community...

Israel theatre sees protest against culture minister who has vowed to gag criticism of the state


Link Here 22nd June 2015
miri regevProtesters gathered outside a Tel Aviv theater with tape across their mouths to protest Culture Minister Miri Regev's repeated vows to censor voices that insult Israel.

Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu s right-wing Likud Party who has been unabashed in her disdain for artistic projects that criticize the Israeli occupation, was at Tel Aviv's Einav Theater to present an award. She was booed by the protesters as she entered the theater, and heckled by several audience members as she took the stage.

The event occurred one day after Regev, in a televised interview on Israel's popular Channel 2 network, referred to artists as "tight-ass, hypocritical and ungrateful" people, comments she later backpedaled from a bit by clarifying that she only meant two specific left-wing artists.

The background to the tension is that filmmakers and producers rely heavily on public funds for most of their productions. Regev has repeatedly said she will not hesitate to cut public funding for projects that she feels defame or threaten the State of Israel, and earlier this week she blocked funds for Haifa's Al-Midan Arab Theater, which is currently staging a controversial production about the life of an Arab terrorist. She threatened to do the same for a joint Arab-Jewish theater after its director, the actor Norman Issa, refused to perform in the occupied West Bank. Issa later relented, and his funding was not cut.

 

  Playwrights for a Lost Cause...

Anti-Censorship stage show in New York cancelled over fear of religious offence


Link Here 17th May 2015
playwrights for a causeA June anti-censorship event featuring four short plays addressing the critical and growing incursion of censorship into arts and culture has been cancelled by the venue, the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in Greewich Village, New York

The event was a benefit for the National Coalition Against Censorship and the controversy was ignited by the segment, Mohammed Gets A Boner, a monologue that Neil LaBute contributed to the quartet of plays, called Playwrights For A Cause .

William Spencer Reilly, executive director of the Sheen Center, told the New York Times that when the the contract for the event was signed in February, he wasn't aware of the title of the play, which the Times deemed unfit to print. After reading the script, Reilly said, he cancelled the show because of the play's clear offense to Muslims. He said:

When an artistic project maligns any faith group, that project clearly falls outside of our mission to highlight the good, the true, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. The center will not be a forum that mocks or satirizes another faith group.

LaBute said the Sheen Center was was absolutely within their right to cancel the contract but added that he's saddened by the decision:

This event was meant to shine another light on censorship and it was unexpected to have the plug pulled, quite literally, by an organization that touts the phrase 'for thought and culture' on their very Web site. Both in life and in the arts, this is not a time to hide or be afraid; recent events have begged for artists and citizens to stand and be counted.

LaBute earlier praised the Coalition Against Censorship for:

Doing really important work at a time when people are actively striving to take away some of our most basic freedoms. I, for one, feel that these are the front lines for an artist--when you are asked to write/fight for what you've said you believe in. It is no longer enough to pay lip service to these ideas--it's time to stand up and be counted.

 

  The Fundamental Particles...

Houellebecq stage play banned from Dubrovnik festival over fears of religious violence


Link Here 16th May 2015
Elementary Particles Michel Houellebecq A play by  the French writer Michel Houellebecq has been yanked from a prominent summer festival in Croatia, with officials alluding to fear of violence arising from Houellebecq's writings about Islam.

The Elementary Particles , a new stage work adapted from Houellebecq's own 1998 novel, was set to play at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival in July. But now a spokeswoman for the festival has confirmed that the play was cancelled following a risk analysis carried out by the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency. She said that, based on that analysis, the Croatian Ministry of Interior determined that the play would represent a security risk.

But saying that,  this particular piece, The Elementary Particles, doesn't contain the author's incendiary views on Islam. The novel's plot follows the sexual lives of two half-brothers, Michel and Bruno, the former of whom is a biologist who is researching a potentially new race of human beings.

 

  Cooking up easy offence...

Bath University theatre censors ban religious comedy sketch


Link Here 28th April 2015
bible according to cwipsStudent Union censors and university chaplains ordered a sketch featuring Mohammed cut from a student comedy show, because it supposedly caused great offence.

Bath Impact , the student newspaper, reports that union officials said the censorship decision had been taken to maintain the inclusivity of the university and to avoid complaints. However, it has emerged that chaplains were involved in the Union's decision, and that they had denounced the scene as graphic and offensive.

The Comedy Writing, Improvisation and Performance Society (CWIPS) staged a performance called The Bible According to CWIPS . But just four hours before the opening night a union official who attended a rehearsal told the society that a sketch depicting the religious character Mohammed, called Cooking With Christ , had to be cut from the show.

The Chaplaincy is said to have described the cut sketch as extreme , but the organisers commented that they had:

Worked very hard in order to make sure [the] material was enjoyable and pleasant for people of all faiths and background.

NSS president Terry Sanderson said:

This is another example of Islamic blasphemy codes being normalised. The decision taken assumes that Muslim students would have been offended, and takes that as a sufficient reason to curtail the students' artistic expression.

It is also very troubling to see 'inclusivity' being used as a spurious reason to shut down parts of the performance. It is telling that only material related to the Islamic Prophet Mohammed was cut. There is an atmosphere of hysteria around satirising or criticising Islam, particularly since the Charlie Hebdo attack. We must start reclaiming ground from those who would silence free expression and satire.

 

  Free Speech Challenged...

Political correctness is running rife at universities, and is granting bullies and extremists the power of censorship


Link Here 2nd February 2015
adrenalineChortle is reporting that feminist comic Kate Smurthwaite has had a show cancelled at Goldsmith's, University of London due to safety concerns resulting from threats of aggressive picketing of the event.

Smurthwaite, a feminist and atheist activist, was due to perform at the South London campus on 2nd February. But the show has been pulled after threats of a picket of the venue by some feminist students.

The group disagrees with Smurthwaites views on sex work. Smurthwaite hold the reprehensible belief that buying sex should be criminalised, while Goldsmith's Feminist Society is commedably in favour of legalisation of the sex industry.

However the Feminist Society voted in favour of Smurthwaite's show going ahead but some feminists students insisted they would picket the venue in protest at Smurthwaite's opinions.

In a post on Facebook, Smurthwaite pointed out the irony that her latest show is about free expression:

The strangest thing is that my show is not about prostitution. I don't even mention it. In a massively ironic coincidence my show is about free speech, it's power and uses and abuses. It is also about Saudi prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi who is now being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile  The Guardian reports that research by online magazine Spiked, finds hat 80% of universities are shown, as a result of their official policies and actions, to have either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus beyond the requirements of the law. Spiked's first ever Free Speech University Rankings show each university administration and students' union graded green, amber or red based on an assessment of their policies and actions. Institutions have been given an overall ranking based on the two combined.

Essex is among the worst performers in Spiked's research, one of five universities in which the student union and the administration are both assessed as actively preventing freedom of speech. The other four are Portsmouth, Northampton, Bath Spa and the University of the West of England.

The Universities are pulled up for the like of banning the Sun, Robin Thicke and for extreme political correctness.

Offsite Update: Maybe someone's taking someone for a ride

4th February 2015. See  article from  sexandcensorship.org

 

 Campaign: Save Soho...

Protecting performing arts in Soho


Link Here 14th January 2015
save soho Save Soho is a coalition of performers, residents and politicians who have now come together out of concern after the closure and repossession of world renown club Madame Jojo's.

Save Soho's aim is to protect and nurture iconic music and performing arts venues in Soho that are disappearing at a terrifying rate. These closures are an attack on Soho's vibrant creative history and enduring character. With the support of the mayor of London, Save Soho is reaching out to to the landowners, so that we can offer them the rich experience of all our supporters in the entertainment industry to advise on future plans. Together, we can safeguard the future of the performing arts in Soho.

Stephen Fry, Chairman of Save Soho said:

Save Soho is not about shrieking at landowners or trying to shame them or anything of that nature. Save Soho is really hoping to be given a small consultational part in their plans.

Tim Arnold, Founder of Save Soho said:

Soho has always depended on building around and adding to what has gone before, not by demolishing it.

 

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